Best selling author Rachel Bridge on ambition, potential and entrepreneurship

 Rachel Bridge is the best-selling author of six books, a journalist, and a public speaker specialising in personal development, smart thinking and entrepreneurship. The former enterprise editor of The Sunday Times, Bridge now writes for The Times and The Telegraph. She also holds an MA in economics from Cambridge University.

In this 2 part series, Bridge discusses ambition, strategy, leadership and self sabotage. You can read part 1 here >>

Can you suggest simple changes people could make to help them fulfil their potential?

There are so many simple changes you could make. For instance, David Wolstencroft, the writer of the TV hits Spooks and Versailles, has a 15-minute rule. Every time he has a spare 15 minutes, he uses it. Even if it takes five minutes for his laptop to boot up, he still has 10 minutes of writing time. So a simple change would be to use every minute.

Another simple change could be to say “no” to things. We get invited to so much stuff, but if you don’t think something will be useful, don’t go. Your time could be better used elsewhere. And surround yourself with people who are as ambitious as you, because this will inspire you to reach your goals.

‘MBA students and graduates already have that ambition to move forward in their careers and they’re on the right journey’

Do you think there are lessons that aspirational business people can learn from sport and entertainment?

Up to a point, business and sport are similar. Elite business people and elite athletes both have to put the work in. But in sport, only one team or competitor can win. In business, everyone can win – companies and individuals can collaborate and be brilliant together.

As a journalist and author you’ve worked with other successful business professionals – do they share any common traits?

The best business leaders do share traits. They enjoy what they do, realising that no-one can be successful slogging at something they hate. They realise that life is short and they have a sense of urgency to be decisive and get on with things. They deliberately surround themselves with people who know more than them and aren’t afraid to admit when they don’t know something. Also, they are very good at building teams and motivating them, even through tough times.

You have written predominantly for entrepreneurs in the past – do you think people in larger corporates share the same challenges?

Definitely. It’s hard for big corporates to be entrepreneurial and that’s why so much is written and said about innovation and creativity in big business. But they have the ability to be entrepreneurial because they have the numbers of people and the budgets to do the bold, daring stuff. They have to be able to have entrepreneurial groups, and leaders that allow these to fail from time to time – entrepreneurship should be championed and supported because if one person moves up the corporate ladder, their whole team will go with them.

What does the successful business person of the future look like to you?

The leader of the future is approachable and collaborative. They are not afraid to try new things and they are open to learning all the times. I’m a huge advocate of reverse mentoring – when leaders learn from interns or junior members of staff. They also need to be nimble and able to respond to changing environments and new ways of doing things.

Decision making is key. I interviewed Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT, for my book and he explained that, as his career has progressed, his decision making has changed to be more instinctive and holistic. He still makes decisions in a logical way, but much more from his gut than earlier in his career. He’s changed his way of thinking to be more open, understanding that he won’t get everything right. I think that’s very motivating.

‘People who want to fulfil their ambitions plan a strategy and understand it won’t be a linear process’

What’s your advice to MBA students and graduates?

I think we can learn a lot from successful business people, and as readers are working through my book, they could put together a blueprint for where they want to go. MBA students and graduates already have that ambition to move forward in their careers and they’re on the right journey. MBAs will certainly open doors, but my biggest piece of advice is to take control of your life – follow your ambition to where you can create something amazing and incorporate the elements of business that you love, as you move through your career.

Have you forgotten what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Did your dreams somehow get discarded as real life got in the way?

Rachel Bridge is bringing her one woman show back to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2016, focusing on the topic of ambition. Using entertaining anecdotes and fascinating insights from her conversations with highly successful people in music, television, sport, business and the arts, she will show you how to become the person you always wanted to be. For more information, visit

 Rachel Bridge is a best-selling author, journalist and public speaker specialising in personal development, smart thinking and entrepreneurship. The former Enterprise Editor of The Sunday Times, Rachel now writes for The Times and The Telegraph. She took a one-woman show to the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival, and will be taking another show there in 2016 which will be based on her book Ambition. She also holds an MA degree in Economics from Cambridge University.


To order Ambition, click here